City Year Seattle/King County corps members and staff had the unique chance to attend and present at a recent Seattle Public Schools Board of Directors meeting. Superintendent Jose Banda was in attendance along with the complete Board of Directors including: Sharon Peaslee, Sherry Carr, Harium Martin-Morris, Michael DeBell, Kay Smith-Blum, Marty McLaren, and Betty Patu.
This meeting offered voice to City Year as a community partner working closely with the District. Board president Michael DeBell warmly welcomed the corps and acknowledged their strong presence, stating: “there can be no mistake about those red jackets in the room.”
Executive Director Simon Amiel presented an overview of City Year’s progress and goals, explaining: “A human capital solution is required to close the implementation gap– and that’s where City Year comes in. With a second set of full time, highly-trained, and caring adults in schools–committed to change.”
Corps member Mohamed Adan spoke to the board on his passion for service with City Year. Adan painted a picture of his own life in relation to the scholars he works with, stating “The kids I serve at Emerson Elementary remind me a lot of myself. Like them, I grew up in the South End, like many of them I was an immigrant, and a student of color. I also struggled academically.” Despite the setbacks Adan experienced, he learned to excel in school and has a promising future ahead of him. He did not fall through the cracks like many students facing similar challenges unfortunately do. “Why?” Adan asked. “Because people believed in me and invested their time in energy to build me up.”
The Principals from each of City Year’s six partner schools came to show their support of the organization. Aki Kurose Middle School Principal, Mia Williams, spoke to the board about the significant gains her school has achieved with the assistance of City Year. “I want to wholeheartedly say that having City Year in our building has been a very cost-effective way to transform our school.” Mia described Aki’s improvement in academics, behavior, and attendance over the last several years, explaining “we’ve had tremendous success with our students on their social-emotional and academic goals by having the near peer coaches right in the classrooms.”
Perhaps the most compelling of all the presenters was Jessica, a 4th grade student from Roxhill Elementary. “We call each other scholars,” Jessica proudly claimed. “A scholar is someone smart, organized, responsible, respectful to others, and honest.” City year has served at Roxhill Elementary for the past three years and according to Jessica, has helped her and her friends become scholars. “When I get older I want to help kids just like me,” Jessica told the board. “Maybe I’ll be a City Year too.”
Amiel concluded City Year’s presentation by answering board members questions about funding, suggesting that the work we are doing is scalable, and inviting each board member to visit one of our six schools to see City Year in action.
Each Director expressed a deep appreciation for the work and accomplishments of City Year. Director Harium Martin-Morris thanked the corps members, stating: “We spend a lot of time talking about: how do we change things? And how do we make things better? The answer to that quite honestly is through service. You individually are showing that one person can make a difference. I applaud you for that and thank you for your service.”